Can I use Vi or Vim with screen readers and/or Braille devices? If so, how would I go about it? Does it require any special setup?

  • Just out of curiosity, as a blind user, what are the advantages of vi / vim over ex (or ex-mode vim)?
    – tbrugere
    Aug 4, 2022 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


According to the site Things I have learned about Linux for the Blind, vim has issues unless you :set noruler. According to him, elvis has a screen-reader friendly mode that doesn't use curses.

From what Tyler Spivey (a blind CLI user) wrote,

The problem with these is that a screen reader doesn’t know that, for example, j will move the cursor to the next line in Vim. Nor does it know that l will move to the next character.

if I type j in vim, or ^n in emacs, the screen reader will attempt to read what has changed on the screen, which is usually nothing – just the position of the cursor. At this point, the screen reader isn’t sure if I typed a j because I wanted to insert a j, or if I typed a j because I wanted to move to the next line.

Sadly, it seems that screen-reader support for vi-based editors could use some improvement, though elvis seems to provide a good experience.

  • 1
    Thank you a lot for this solution! I had to search several weeks to find someone who knows about the ruler and could give us a hint about that.
    – josh
    Jul 29, 2019 at 2:18

Fenrir does read cursor movements with j. if a j appears on the screen this is handled as well. but still you should turn off the ruler. Currently it just runs on linux. but this is just by the fact that i did not finish other drivers and will change in near future after bringing fenrir to an multiprocess architecture. https://linux-a11y.org/index.php?page=fenrir-screenreader

cheers chrys

  • 1
    Can you explain a little more what Fenrir is?
    – Tumbler41
    Jun 9, 2017 at 14:27

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